the debauchery of packing for an overseas move cannot be summed in a mere letter. the weight of the task overwhelms me, even though this is not the first time. every time, i have done it alone. and every time, it’s heartbreaking. getting rid of stuff is always a welcome proposition for a purist like me, but in reality it means deciding which memories to break physical contact with, which gifts to discard, which events or people in life have priority over the rest, which belongings it would kill me to part with. all this contributes to heartlessness; i’m worried about a cardiac arrest tonight as i write this. the heart stops, doesn’t it, when large chunks of it have been ripped out. 3 years working in a hospital taught me that much. but this draconian shredding apart of accumulated life also contributes to fearlessness. if i can tear apart my life i can reassemble it elsewhere. take it all with me, in the still accessible corridors of memory. move that feast, counseled hemingway. for you will be starving one day again soon.
but heartless debauchery is an apt description for another reason, as i’m in the final days of triage before the charities come to cart off the furniture. piles of documents, photos, maps, real letters from ages ago when handwriting was a scrutinizable component of personality, shoes, bottles of half-used product, clothing, cds, books, manuals, sheet music, a maelstrom of things thrown into piles of ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘maybe’, but looking admittedly as if a weak landmine had struck. is it essential? lightweight? available halfway around the world? these being the only 3 questions on the triage station clipboard hung over my tired conscience.
i never seem to move across town, or merely to another country anymore. no, if it doesn’t involve crossing at least one ocean basin then i’m not interested. i consume countries for my apéritif; i step over continents in the course of my evening stroll. my immigrant psyche has resigned itself to a life of constant assimilation in foreign lands.